It’s a season of transition for many, as students graduate and prepare for the next stage of their lives. My cousin and brother have both graduated from high school. Many high school students will go on to college/university.
But this cultural edifice is not for me.
Be careful how you share this online, so my grandparents don’t see it (!) but in spite of their repeated entreaties, I don’t feel the need for more than my 4.0 Associate of Arts degree. In case some of my reasons resonate with you, I’m sharing them.
Not My Circus…
1. Expense Outweighs the Benefits
The Community Impact Newsletter, in a May post, said, “in 2015 the average student loan debt at graduation in Texas was $27,324 for public universities”. That’s as much as a car, except without the car, and without a guarantee of a job.
Further, “the current model of relying on either federal grant aid or state grant aid…will be very difficult to sustain in the future”.
I acknowledge that certain capital (such as houses and cars) are so valuable and so material/labor intensive to create that we need a savings-and-loan system to pay for them. And it’s been said that “No one can take away what you know.” But when I see the results of the modern education system, I can’t help but be skeptical about the value Higher Education is offering me in exchange for my arm and leg.
As grant programs and tuitions continue to race upward (as CI said, “The cost of a college education is considerably outpacing inflation”) it should cause us to take a step back and say Why? Are we getting proper value for this staggering expense?
U.S. News has explored this issue, and I couldn’t help but smile when they said:
“The process by which these institutions price themselves involves a battle for status, a tangled labyrinth of subsidies and delicately balanced financial-aid budgets that are often leveraged as much for prestige as to help the neediest applicants.”
The site goes on to claim, quoting a Federal Reserve of New York report, that “for every dollar of subsidized loans issued, tuition rises 70 cents and that, for every dollar of federal Pell grants, it goes up 55 cents.”
In other words, colleges/universities aren’t just trying to signal prestige with their outrageous sticker prices — they’re also trying to grab federal money in the form of student grants. I’m reminded of the healthcare industry, where everything is so contorted by government regulation, insurance company networking, dealing, discounting, and Medicare non-payment that it’s impossible to pin down what a medical treatment actually costs the provider.
To quote USNews.com again (speaking of the higher education system):
With no other product or service do you go in and fill out a form saying how much money you make, how much debt you have, whether you have a mortgage on your house, how many other children you have going to college.…If an auto dealer tried to get that information, they’d probably be hauled to court and accused of trying to engage in some sort of fraudulent practice or invasion of privacy.
All this to say: that’s not a beast I feel the need to feed.
Me and My Life – More Personal Reasons
2. My Career is Fulfilling
I currently have a job that gets me out of the house and gives me a place to witness, while giving me time to write in between – which was my ideal dream a few years ago. In other words, I’m literally “living the dream”.
It may be that sometime God will reveal a new chapter for my life, a new path, and at that time college might become part of that.
But this is what He wants right now, and I can’t really complain.
3. I’m Gonna Marry Rich 😉
I don’t actually know who I’ll marry, but if he’s the primary income I will have the freedom to stay home with the kids if necessary.
While I’m not immune to the temptation of riches, my upbringing has been pretty financially conservative. If the Mr. and I have to pinch pennies because I didn’t finish out my CPA certification – well, at least I’ll be there for my kids’ events.
4. I Don’t Enjoy School
No wonder teachers’ salaries are always being discussed. You couldn’t pay me to sit in a classroom all day, every day.
The poor dears.
5. The School of Life
I’ve learned so much about human nature, life expectations, schedules, honoring commitments, dealing with difficult people, the importance of communication, on and on from my actual jobs – many things that I didn’t learn in a “classroom” setting.
A 4-year degree would not add to my career possibilities — my managers know my abilities and my work ethic, and will consider promotions and increased hours (should I want them) based on those qualities, not on a piece of paper.
College may be all well and fine, but there are some essentials for success that are learned in the nitty-gritty of reality – not in the insulated world of academia. (Can you learn discipline at college? Sure, but why spend 20 grand to learn what parental boundaries could help with?)
Does this dinosaur of the 20th century need to die?
This is not intended to tell anyone that they are a “bad person” for investing in college — these are my reasons. I do, however, want to convince you to make sure that your goals and life ambitions are best served by what the college experience has to offer.
Don’t let peer pressure (parents, friends, classmates, intendeds) force you into a decision that’s personally unnecessary or unhelpful for you.
Aspiring doctors will require a lot of “official” training to get the necessary certification. Someone who wants to work with NASA will probably need the magic-piece-of-paper to open doors and attract the elites’ notice.
Aspiring TV repairmen might do better in an apprenticeship. There’s no shame in having modest dreams.
And besides: I’d look really silly if I had half a degree, and then the zombie apocalypse hit 😉
Kimia Wood earned her Associate of Arts Degree while maintaining a cumulative GPA of 4.0. Now you know why she has trouble with perfectionism.
She currently lives somewhere in the American Midwest bracing for the collapse of society by writing the White Mesa Chronicles…because that’s more fun than gardening.